Stewart Williams
December 4, 2011

Russia voted Sunday in legislative elections likely to erode the majority of Vladimir Putin’s ruling party and marred by claims the authorities committed dirty tricks to ensure its dominance.

The United Russia party was expected again to win the majority in the State Duma parliament but with fewer seats than in the 2007 polls, as opponents said the ruling elite had downed websites and harassed monitors to limit dissent.

The elections are seen as a crucial test of Putin’s popularity in Russia as he prepares to stand in March 2012 presidential elections to return to the Kremlin after his four-year stint as prime minister.

Independent monitor group Golos (Voice), which claimed rampant violations in the campaign, said its “Map of Violations” website documenting reports of fraud was inaccessible due a cyber-attack and its email was paralysed.

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